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Haggai Linik

Fiction, 2011

Winner of the 2011 Sapir Prize


THE PROMPTER is about the effort to integrate an experience of death into everyday life. When Haggai Linik was eight, his older brother, Zohar, was killed during an elite army unit training exercise. In THE PROMPTER, Linik describes how two parents, much like his own, silently cope with their grief.

In the novel, the German mother, Mira, herself a victim of the violence of Russian occupation, and the father, a Jew serving in the Red Army, leave Germany for Israel to begin a new life. That new life is thrown off course when their eldest son is killed.

Mira and Nehemia have different ways of dealing with the loss and continuing to live. Mira withdraws into herself, sitting on the porch that faces the bus stop, veiling herself in cigarette smoke. She observes life from afar, keeping her distance from it. Nehemia, her husband, stays engaged in the world: he constructs buildings and political aspirations that both rest on foundations of bereavement.

Between Mira and Nehemia is a silent void. Their characters are depicted largely through their inner monologues, their dreams and memories. Through these memories readers meet with the private and familial lives that preceded loss: the first time they met in Europe, their move to Israel, the birth of their six children.

The novel reveals what is usually hidden from view, like the prompter, whose existence is kept silent and secret. Death may appear in front, at center stage, but grief is concealed: it is not sensational, esthetic or photogenic. Haggai Linik’s novel serves as a prompter to grief, whispering it into life.

Rights Sold: 

Published by: Israel, Hakibbutz HaMe'uhad 

From the Sapir Prize announcement:

“The novel penetrates the deepest and most painful layers of the consciousness. The tale is told in a voice replete with gentleness, sharpness, amazement and humor, in the face of the fortitude that refines human pain.”

“The novel is an effective combination of pain and humor. The brilliant ending, a version of Tolstoy's 'The Death of Ivan Ilyich', ties all the strings together and also leaves them unraveled. Required, Prompter is a story that dares to show the futility of the ceremonial rules and rituals of grief; it whispers their secrets.” –  Omri Herzog, Ha’aretz

“Required, Prompter is a central and solid pillar of Israeli prose… It displays the subject of bereavement wisely, courageously and without sentimentality, which in itself is a remarkable accomplishment. But there’s more to it than that. Required, Prompter eventually tells of the unexpected that lies beneath the surface of supposedly ordinary and familiar social interaction.” – Dan Miron, Professor Emeritus, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Leonard Kaye Professor of the Hebrew Literature Department of ESAAS of Columbia University

“Linik creates a cracked portrayal of grief with prose that is restrained and without fireworks. Everything is given to us in whisper, in a sort of disturbing calm, in a stillness that gets its force from a latent dynamism threatening to erupt. Twists of consciousness are in acute opposition to the fixedness and monotony of physical reality.” – Yotam Shwimmer, YNET

“Linik is surely one of the best Israeli writers. His narrative artistry is clear and inspiring.” – Tamar Mishmar, HaKoret

“Linik’s writing is highly original, imaginative, and utterly free of routine thinking patterns: he approaches bereavement from an unusual angle, with sudden, sometimes even baffling bursts of humor that shed new light on the pain. Most of his strength comes from a solid and powerful prose rife with vivid, sometimes discomfiting images. The unique and imaginative rhythm reminded me of early Pasternak.” – Nili Mirsky, literary editor, translator and critic

“Required, Prompter is rare in its quality and maturity. This is the finest of prose, both keen and intelligent, that enters the heart of the experience of bereavement with soberness and without a shred of sentimentality.” – Agi Mish’ol, poet

“Linik is an author of silence, of the more precious building blocks literature needs. In his writing as well as in his conduct, it is as if he religiously follows Emerson’s decree: ’Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.’” – Yehuda Visan, Walla!

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